Jets rookie Stephen Hill wants to prove debut was no fluke
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie struggles in training camp, causing some observers, including his coach, to express doubts. Then, out of nowhere, that rookie turns heads with a dazzling performance in his debut.
Now do it again.
Such is life for Stephen Hill.
After tearing through the Bills' secondary for 89 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, the Jets wideout seeks an encore Sunday against the Steelers' defense, that decorated unit with its vaunted secondary.
"I'm studying as much as I can," Hill said Thursday, adding that he has been following former Steeler Santonio Holmes and peppering him with questions about Pittsburgh's defense.
"I'm just making sure I be a sponge, like I've always been,'' he said. "And definitely keeping last week behind me."
Last week Hill silenced some critics, at least momentarily. The second-round pick caught five of the seven passes thrown his way and drew a pass-interference call on one of the throws that wasn't completed. He flashed his 4.36 speed for the 40 in getting deep and used his lanky 6-4 frame to make catches in traffic.
That size-speed combination has even drawn favorable comparisons to Randy Moss. That's dandy, but it did come against a Bills defense that seemed discombobulated.
Hill's challenge now is proving that he isn't a flash in the pan, that he can shine even after the NFL has a read on him. Who better to prove that against than a defense rated No. 1 against the pass last season?
Rex Ryan said he will be counting on his receivers to "get off the press coverage" from the Steelers' cornerbacks. "And then you've got those two intimidating guys back there at safety [Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark]. It's a big challenge."
It's one that Hill insists he is eager for.
"I'm definitely used to it," he said of anticipating bump-and-run coverage, which he didn't see much of against the Bills. "But those guys put on their pants the same way that I put on mine. These guys execute their job well, and so I'm ready to execute mine as well."
Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said he doesn't sense any complacency in the 21-year-old and added that the Jets' coaching staff wouldn't allow it anyway.
"He made some plays and did some good things, but he can get a lot better," Sparano said. "It wasn't easy the entire game for Stephen. On the surface it may look that way, but it wasn't."
Nevertheless, Hill said he has noticed a "different reaction" from fans around town since Sunday.
"Different people are your friends now," he said with a chuckle. "But I definitely don't buy into that. There's 15 games left and the playoffs. I'm just trying to do my thing and stay out of that."